I strained my shoulder the other night breaking up a bar fight. Normally, we have security when drunken customers switch over to the dark side but none of them happened to be around at the time. Besides, I’ve seen Roadhouse like forty times, so I’m good.
At 44 years of age, I should probably give up trying to step in the middle of things. Chalk it up to natural instinct. Despite the bum shoulder, however, I won’t be missing any playing time.
The same cannot be said for Derek Jeter and Ray Lewis, who both recently sustained season-ending injuries, Lewis with a torn triceps and Jeter with a broken ankle. Both men are their teams’ emotional leaders, both are first ballot Hall-of-Famers and both can now be found in the training room nursing their injuries, their teams’ chances of success without them dwindled considerably, if not out the window altogether.
Not only have the Ravens and Yankees been dealt huge blows with these two out, but so have sports fans everywhere as both Lewis and Jeter are among the most enjoyable players in their respective sports to watch and that’s coming from a life-long Yankee-hater.
As expected, ESPN has already begun eulogizing their careers, asking pointless questions such as “Which player is more of a loss to his team,” as if that’s something one can measure but to quote Derek Zoolander, I’m not a good eugoogolizer. If it’s one thing I know from watching these two over the years, it’s that they’ll both be back.
At 38, Jeter led the league in hits this year (216). He ranks 11th all-time in that category and if he repeats that same success next year, he’ll land himself in the top five behind only Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial. Not bad company if you can get it.
Lewis, 37, is one of the most feared linebackers of all-time. Speaking of the record books, Lewis is second all-time in takeaways (interceptions plus fumble recoveries) with 51, two behind Jack Ham. He’s already got one Super Bowl trophy and the game’s MVP award. Rest assured no torn triceps muscle will keep him from wanting to win another.
In an era where athletes jump ship for the next dollar, Jeter and Lewis are anomalies, both having played for their same teams since 1996. Both have nearly single-handedly kept their teams competitive as long as they’ve been in the league. In fact, the similarities are such that it’s almost eerie they got injured in the same week.
Both the Yankees and Ravens will now look to recover, Jeter and Lewis-less; losing guys like these both on and off the field will be no easy hurdle. The Yankees have already dropped two home games to Detroit with Justin Verlander and Matt Scherzer looming and the Ravens, while still solid defensively and 5-1 atop the AFC North, have an uphill climb to get to the Super Bowl without Ray Ray barking out assignments on the field.
So fret not, Yankees and Ravens fans. Derek and Ray will be back before you know it, if only to plan their retirement tours. While their careers are both certainly on the downslope, they’ll still always be a factor as long as they’re wearing their purple and pinstripes. And if either of them chooses not to return, we can always take comfort that we saw the best of the best play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my ice pack.